The Huck PAC Does Constitutional Law

acc_img_huckpac_DisplayOver at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher reveals one motive for the Evangelical Right’s reaction to the recent SCOTUS ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.  Here we’ll just borrow his quote from Mike Huckabee:

Dear Friends,

My immediate thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same sex marriage is okay: “Jesus wept.” Five people in robes said they are bigger than the voters of California and Congress combined. And bigger than God. May He forgive us all. Elections matter and our fight to protect Traditional Marriage continues. If you want to help elect men and women who support Life and Marriage, I urge you to make an immediate donation of $3 or more today to Huck PAC. As the Left wing media and activists cheer today’s rulings, help me show them the fight to preserve Traditional Marriage is far from over. Please donate today!

Sincerely, Mike Huckabee

Whether it’s politics or religion or a hybrid of the two, never, ever forget to test one of our most reliable analytical tools: “follow the money.”

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The SCOTUS Speaks, I Snooze

yawningBoring. That’s what I have to say, legally speaking, about the much-anticipated SCOTUS cases related to same-sex marriage. In U.S. v. Windsor the SCOTUS took on the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a statutory refusal to recognize same-sex marriage for purposes of a myriad of federal laws. In Hollingsworth v. Perry they might have decided the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, under which gay unions would not be granted the title of “marriage.”

Here’s why the DOMA case was boring: Continue reading

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SCOTUS by the Numbers

2013-02-27T165334Z_1_CBRE91Q1AXE00_RTROPTP_3_USREPORT-US-USA-COURT-VOTING-ARGUMENT_JPG_475x310_q85In case you haven’t had the time to follow voting patterns of the SCOTUS, the scotusblog has done the work for you.

Their chart on agreement over all cases for the October term, 2012, tells us that the justices agree more often than not.  For example, Scalia agreed with Ginsburg (in full, part, or in the judgment only) a full 74% of the time while Roberts’s lowest agreement rate with any judge was 71%.  The lowest agreement rate between any two justices was that of Alito and Sotomayor at 64% while the highest agreement rate overall was 97% between Sotomayor and Kagan.

But it may be more interesting to consider how they line up on divided cases and  5-4 cases. Continue reading

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Presbyterian Transparency

reflective building

For those who would like to paint the OPC as litigious, there was great disappointment at the 2013 General Assembly.  The presbyters spoke of missions, crisis relief efforts, the collaborative effort (with the URCNA) on a psalter/hymnal, and proper financial care for ministers.  There was just one judicial appeal, and that appeal could be best described as a rogue appeal expressed in intemperate language.

That appeal was pretty much dead on arrival but it did foster a discussion that was so OPC.  It was, on the surface, a mundane discussion of what should be included in the minutes of the General Assembly.  But, as it turned out, there was a lively, principled, and well-argued exchange on what might be characterized as a Presbyterian drive for decorum and order over against transparency. Continue reading

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A Confessional Word: Equity

dictionary

While others are trying to slay 2k with what appears to be a minority view of which version of the Belgic Confession has been adopted by the URCNA, this might be a good time to visit the Westminster Confession on the topic.  It would, of course, be anachronistic to describe the WCF as neo-Cal or Van Tillian, but there are plenty of Reformed teeth being worn down in gnashing over, for example, David Van Drunen dusting off the natural law for fresh consideration.

But if you can hear yourself think over all the screaming, one can find the natural law perspective of the Westminster divines has, indeed, found its way into the confession. Continue reading

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Filed under Epistemology, Natural Law, Presbyterian Vocabulary, Uncategorized, Westminster Confession of Faith

The International Phenomenon of “The Last Piece”

lemonbarWe have previously chronicled the Midwestern phenomenon in which there is nearly always one piece of food left on potluck serving trays. Well, there’s more to the story, and it has international implications.

The international implication inspiration for this post came from my son-in-law who informed me of the German word andstandreste, defined by him as “the piece which out of propriety one does not take.”  A blog elaborates:

This always remains decency: None takes the last of the coffee from the pot, no one picks up the last sandwiches on the plate. In the gummy bears that Peter has brought his holiday before us, it is again the same way: From each variety is exactly one left. [translated from German to English by Google] Continue reading

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Arlington v. FCC on the Fourth Branch of Government

everyone-hates-the-government-these-days-all-those-lazy-faceless-bureaucrats-taking-our-money-wasting-it-racking-up-huge-debts-we-cant-afford-to-pay

Maybe you don’t think much on the role of agencies in today’s America. But with the recently discovered news that the IRS has used its considerable powers to target political enemies and the upcoming role of agencies in the enforcement of Obamacare, maybe you should. Harry Truman said “I thought I was the president, but when it comes to these bureaucrats, I can’t do a damn thing,” and that was when agencies had a considerably more limited role in our lives. That quote can be found in the dissenting opinion (C.J. Roberts joined by Kennedy and Alito) of Arlington v. FCC . That dissent continues:

One of the principal authors of the Constitution famously wrote that the “accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” Continue reading

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Yes, They Really Prayed For That

jim-halpert-john-krasinski-the-office-Favim_com-173662By now the Congressional Prayer offered by URCNA minister Brian Lee has been discussed at Christian in America, Old Life, and by Pastor Lee himself. That’s plenty. But what about other Congressional prayers? The discussion surrounding Pastor Lee is whether he should have prayed, not the content of his prayer. But if you spend a little time clicking through the Congressional prayer archives, you might find yourself saying “wow, they really prayed for that.”

First, to pick some low-hanging fruit, there have been at least two prayers to a god associated with Hinduism:

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What Hath Pulpit Freedom Sunday Wrought?

Tax_The_Churches[5]Pulpit Freedom Sunday may not have prevented the Obama re-election, but it seems to have had at least one effect: getting the Secular Coalition agitated. They are now calling for increased IRS scrutiny of the church:

Specifically, the Coalition is asking that two exemptions are removed from the tax code. The two provisions are 26 USC §6033(a)(3)(A)(i) and (iii) and (C)(i) which exempts churches, their integrated auxiliaries and exclusively religious activities from the requirement to file an annual return-something every other organization exempt from taxation must do-and 26 USC § 7611, which includes five pages of restrictions on the IRS’s ability to investigate churches engaged in activity that would void a 501c3 tax exemption. Continue reading

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Antonin Scalia v. The Iowa Supreme Court on the Living Constitution

scalia bookKey to Iowa’s 2009 Varnum v. Brien decision finding a constitutional right to gay marriage was its concept of a Living Constitution:

The framers of the Iowa Constitution knew, as did the drafters of the United States Constitution, that “times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,” and as our constitution “endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom” and equality.. . .  (“Our constitution is not merely tied to tradition, but recognizes the changing nature of society.”).

The idea of a Living Constitution was indispensable to a decision that found rights that could not have possibly been intended by the drafters of the constitution.  Continue reading

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